Review: Asiana A321neo Economy Class from Fukuoka to Seoul Incheon

With non-stop flights between Tokyo and Seoul having no award availability when I needed to go, I ended up flying from Tokyo to Fukuoka and then on to Seoul during my recent trip to Korea.

The second flight, from Fukuoka to Seoul, was operated by Asiana Airline’s Airbus A321neo. Continue reading this review to see what the short, one-hour economy class hop was like.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class
Asiana A321neo economy class.

Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Fukuoka Airport

Right after arriving from Tokyo on an ANA A321neo, I made my way to Fukuoka airport’s international terminal. The free shuttle bus ride took about ten minutes. With the international terminal not being connected to the city by train, the shuttle bus was full – most international passengers get to the domestic terminal by train and take the bus from there.

Inside, the international terminal was quite busy. The terminal was quite small to begin with and there were about a dozen flights departing within the coming three hours or so. I was surprised that only a small pop-up restaurant was open with the terminal’s other restaurant being closed in spite of there being a lot of passengers.

Fukuoka Airport Shuttle Bus
Free shuttle bus to the international terminal.
Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
Check-in hall.
Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
The only restaurant that was open.

Asiana’s check-in was done at M counters at the end of the terminal. That said, about three hours before departure they were still closed. There was a sign saying that they would open at 6:35PM – 2 hours 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

To avoid having to wait for a long time at security and immigration (more and more passengers were checking in for some of the other flights), I got my boarding pass from one of the self-check-in machines and headed airside. Luckily, going through security only took a couple of minutes, and going through immigration using one of the e-gates was even faster.

Asiana Check-in Counters at Fukuoka Airport
Check-in counters.
Fukuoka International Self-Check-in Machines
Self check-in machines.
Fukuoka Airport International Terminal
No queue at security.

Airside, I went to Lounge Fukuoka – the contract lounge available to Asiana business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members among others – where I spent a couple of hours getting some work done. The lounge, while nothing to write home about, was perfectly fine for that purpose.

Boarding started at 8:22PM at gate 58 on the edge of the terminal. As a Star Alliance Gold member, I was able to use the business class line and was actually the first one to board.

Lounge Fukuoka
Lounge Fukuoka.
Fukuoka Airport International Departures Area
Waiting area.
Asiana Airlines Gate at Fukuoka Airport
Gate 58.
Asiana A321neo at Fukuoka Airport
Ready to go.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Cabin & Seat

Asiana Airlines operates A321neos in two configurations – one with 180 seats including 12 in business class and one with 188 seats including 8 in business class. The flight that I was on was operated by the denser, 188-seat version.

At the front of the aircraft were two rows of recliner business class seats in a 2-2 layout. The rest of the aircraft consisted of economy class seats in a 3-3 layout.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Cabin
Asiana A321neo Economy Class Seats
…and from the other side.

The one thing that I noticed immediately after settling down in my right-hand side window seat 33K was the above-average legroom – at the very least in comparison with the ANA A321neo that I just got off. I had enough space for my legs even after putting my fairly large camera bag under the seat in front of me.

While there was an IFE system box between seats J and K in front of me, it was small enough not to be bothersome.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Legroom

In economy class, the aircraft was equipped with two power outlets (located under the seats in front) per three seats.

There was also a USB-A charging port toward the top of the seatback in front. Next to it was a smartphone/tablet holder and a compartment with an in-flight entertainment guide.

The tray table couldn’t be folded in half.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Power Outlet
Power outlet.
Asiana A321neo Economy Class Device Holder
Device holder.

The aircraft was not equipped with personal entertainment screens. That said, there were in-flight entertainment controls in the left armrest of my seat to control audio channels.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class IFE Controls
Audio controls.

On the overhead panels were the usual reading lights as well as very welcome individual air vents.

Asiana Airlines Flight 135 Departure from Fukuoka

Upon boarding, a duty free catalog, waste bag, safety card, and headset were waiting in the seat pocket. As mentioned earlier, there was also an in-flight entertainment guide in a separate compartment at the top of the seat.

By the time boarding finished, the flight was almost full with just a few seats empty here and there. Outside, it was raining quite heavily.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Seat Pocket
Contents of the seat pocket.

At 8:39PM, the captain welcomed everyone onboard via the PA and mentioned that it was clear and 10 degrees Celsius in Seoul. A couple of minutes later, the cabin crew distributed immigration, customs, and quarantine forms; around the same time, the aircraft doors were closed.

We were pushed back at 8:43PM – three minutes behind schedule – and while making our way to the runway, a safety video was played on overhead screens. For better or worse, the video was fairly standard with no “special touches” that are nowadays fairly common.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Window
Rainy evening.
Korea Immigration Forms
Immigration forms.
Asiana A321neo Economy Class Safety Video
Safety video.

We took off from Fukuoka airport’s runway 16 at 8:54PM and immediately after take-off, we were offered some nice misty views of Fukuoka. The climb out was fairly bumpy.

Asiana A321neo Departure from Fukuoka to Seoul
Climbing out of Fukuoka airport.

Asiana One-Hour Short-Haul Flight Dinner

The seatbelt signs were switched off and cabin lights switched on less than 10 minutes after take-off. At that point, I started filling out the many forms I got from the cabin crew.

While the flight was just an hour long, there was a hot meal service. It started just 15 minutes or so after take-off and since the service was simple and there were two carts – one starting at the front of the cabin and one in the middle – I had my meal on the tray table just three or four minutes after the service started.

The meal consisted of a main, a cup of water, and a pack of utensils, all provided individually (i.e. not on a tray or in a box).

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Short-Haul Dinner

The main was fried chicken with pineapple and sweet and sour sauce. The chicken came with a side of rice.

While not the most filling in-flight meal I had, the volume was perfectly adequate for the very short flight and both the chicken and rice were good.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Meal

I finished the meal around 9:20PM; just two minutes later, the cabin crew passed around the cabin collecting trash from those that finished eating. As such, I was completely done with the meal within 30 minutes of take-off – considering the short duration of the flight overall, I really welcomed the quick and efficient service.

Asiana A321neo In-Flight Entertainment System & Wi-Fi

As mentioned earlier, the aircraft was not equipped with personal entertainment screens. That said, the seats were equipped with personal device holders and there was onboard entertainment streamed through wi-fi. Additionally, for those preferring to listen to the onboard audio, headsets were provided.

The streaming portal accessible after connecting to the onboard wi-fi network contained a decent selection of content – at least considering the length of the flight. There were over 20 movies as well as a selection of music both in the form of albums and channels. That said, the TV series section only featured DC’s Legends of Tomorrow in addition to some documentaries, Korean content, etc.

Those using iPhones/iPads needed to download Cabin Media Player app to stream content onboard. While clicking play on a movie in the streaming portal automatically opened the app on my phone, I kept getting an error and couldn’t get any movie to play. TV series played directly in the web browser and so I could play them without getting an error.

Since the aircraft was not equipped with onboard internet, the app needed to be downloaded on the ground.

Asiana A321neo Wi-Fi Entertainment

Asiana A321neo Wi-Fi Entertainment

An in-flight map was available through wi-fi as well. That said, it was also shown on the overhead screens for a good portion of the flight.

In both cases, it looped between a few different views.

Asiana A321neo Wi-Fi Entertainment

Asiana A321neo Economy Class In-Flight Map

Arrival at Seoul Incheon Airport

Aside from the meal service, the flight was uneventful. The only thing that stood out was that during the duty free shopping run, there were some people actually shopping. Personally, I spent some time working on a review of the ANA Suite Lounge in Okinawa which I visited on one of my previous trips.

Due to turbulence, the seatbelt signs were switched back on shortly after they were first switched off. They stayed on for the rest of the flight.

At 9:39PM, the pilots asked the cabin crew to prepare for landing and ten minutes or so, the landing gear was lowered. We landed on Seoul Incheon’s runway 34L at 9:53PM. Interestingly, the cabin lights stayed on throughout the descent.

Asiana A321neo Approaching Seoul
Approaching Incheon airport.

It took just over 10 minutes for us to then reach our arrival gate 18 at 10:04PM – six minutes ahead of schedule.

Another couple of minutes later, disembarking started. With quite a queue ahead of me, it took me about 30 minutes to clear immigration. From there, I got on a train to Unseo right next to the airport where my hotel was. More about that in the next instalment, though.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Wing
Welcome to Seoul.
Seoul Incheon Airport
Walking toward the immigration counters.

Asiana A321neo Economy Class Summary

Considering that the flight was just an hour long – shorter than my domestic flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka that I took right before it – there was not much that could go wrong. In fact, Asiana Airlines provided seats with above-average legroom and even served a hot meal.

With that, I would not hesitate to fly Asiana between Japan and Korea – or even on longer flights – again.

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